This Easter, have faith in the British way of life
The words “do not be afraid” appear twice in Matthew’s account of Easter. First an angel materialises outside Jesus’s empty tomb and appeals to the visiting women for calm. Later, Jesus appears before his disciplines with the very same instruction. It is both a kindness – reassuring the believers – and a commandment. A consistent message of the Bible is that fear is unnecessary. Faith defeats it.
Sometimes, faith is hard to maintain. The past few weeks have witnessed so many horrors. The rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria was the target of a chemical weapon attack by its own government. Four pedestrians and a policeman were killed by a terrorist in Westminster; another four died in a similar assault in Stockholm. Passengers were blown apart on the St Petersburg Metro. Dozens of Copts were butchered in attacks on Palm Sunday. The world is slowly becoming aware of the particular brutality shown towards Christians. Recently it was claimed that two women died after a hunger strike in Eritrea in a protest at the oppression of their faith. Their bodies allegedly showed signs of sexual assault.
There are an estimated 300,000 Christians in North Korea, which is ranked as the worst country in the world for religious persecution. Kim Jong-un’s regime is thoroughly disgusting. Dissent is crushed; the poor go hungry. That alone is reason for the West to despise and isolate the government – but its threat to construct a serious nuclear weapons programme also demands that we confront it. The West’s promotion of human rights and its strong military posture thus go hand-in-hand. Dictators who murder their citizens tend also to pick fights with other nations.
[…] Not everyone has a faith in God to guide them through tough times, but there is a secular faith in the British way that can act as a compass. The country has always been drawn to the very best of human values. Its history has blemishes, but nowhere has a greater effort been made to atone for them. There are few countries that could claim to be so peaceful, wealthy or tolerant. Be this down to some genius of the British character or hard work, it leaves the nation in a position of profound responsibility. It also leaves it with the spiritual reserves – the courage – necessary to face an uncertain future.